I absolutely loved the grant reading experience, and it was genuinely one of my favorite parts of working with the Women’s Fund. I loved meeting new people and seeing how many wonderful and innovative programs Central Ohio had to offer. But the most important thing I learned way that creating social change is both a individual and holistic process. On my own, I have the power to be an advocate for social change. I read the grants, I evaluated the options, and I shared my voice, as did the hundreds of other women that worked on grant reading. But what gives us power is not our individual opinions, but the power of the group as a whole. We united and decided what would be best for our community. Change can only be made with all voices in unison.
We always talk about the “ripple effect” in terms of the effectiveness of social change programs. But I also believe that the ripple effect is the way that the Women’s Fund grows in the Central Ohio community. At our core, we’re a tiny little non-profit with five staff members. that’s the center. The first ripple are interns and volunteers at the office or at Keyholder, or any other event. Those who take the goals of the Fund to heart, who work hard to make sure every event and project is as effective and fantastic as it can be. (And side note–most of us are unpaid, too, because we care that deeply about the goals of the Fund).
Then comes the huge ring that is grant reading. I remember meeting women there who didn’t know much about the Women’s Fund or all of our work. They found out through a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friends who recommended it. Distinctly, I remember meeting a woman who had just moved to Columbus with her family and barely knew anything about our town or about how a ‘Women’s Fund’ worked. The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio was her first introduction to the political and social climate of Columbus. And what an introduction, too! She was so amazed by our presentations and so eager to participate and learn more.
Grant Reading is many women’s first insight in to the Women’s Fund, and they see how the can have direct impact on their community, just by raising their voice. It’s like what Sheryl Sandberg says: women and girls have been trained to hold back, to apologize before speaking, to let someone else be the voice. But Grant Reading gives women the opportunity to feel the resonance of their own voice and see how it can directly impact their world. These women and girls then bring their stories of grant reading to their homes, offices, and schools and share how others, too, can create social change by going to two grant reading sessions in October.
Then comes the even bigger ripple that consists of the grants themselves. The grants impact women and girls all over central ohio, and each of those grants has direct and indirect effects. These projects start their own ripples too, coming from the original core of the Fund.
I love Grant Reading because it’s about being part of something bigger than yourself, while also seeing your own potential and power. it’s empowering and uplifting to spend a few hours with an amazingly talented group of women and girls and see all of the potential and promise that the future holds.
Written by Victoria Ungvarsky